Halloween Candy – What’s Best For Your Trick-Or-Treaters
Halloween party, fright night, harvest festival, fall ball. Odds are, one or more of these scare fests are happening in your neighborhood soon. Children and their candy-stained teeth will be overflowing the streets and sidewalks, buckets and bags heavy with sweet, calorie-dense goodness. After all, turning down free candy, in the view of a child, is as absurd as denouncing St. Nick. It is imperative, though, that before they ever even think about putting on their costume, they know their treats are going to be scanned and picked through to weed out undesirables. Besides, if well-meaning people are handing out candy hand over fist, it wouldn’t be natural for the kids to question it. That’s our job as parents and caregivers.
Explaining to the children who are old enough to grasp the message is a great way to instill healthy habits and to teach them that not all the candy they get can be shoved into their little cheeks at first sight. Knowing ahead of time that some of the candy they get might make them feel yucky or be bad for their pretty teeth can help prepare them for what might otherwise result in a sidewalk meltdown. We’ve all seen that mom trying to hide her embarrassment while her kid is on the ground throwing their arms and legs around and screaming like they were just informed that the world is officially and indefinitely out of candy.
Nutrition labels won’t be on each and every piece of candy given out, so it is important for the adults to go into this season intellectually armed with the knowledge of which candy is the most hazardous to blood sugar, tooth decay and childhood obesity. Chocolate bars of all kinds, during label comparisons, turned out to be some of the least healthy candy. For instance, two fun-size Snickers (about two bites worth of candy) contain more than six times the number of calories in an entire roll of Smarties. Those candies that rank higher on the caloric, fat or sugar scale should have strict limits placed on them, if allowed at all.
The table below is helpful in giving us a good idea of which candies to throw out and which ones to place strict limits on. The candies are listed in order of best to worst based on calories, but please keep in mind that grams of fat and grams of sugar should be considered as well. Also note that the portions mentioned are not full-size bars and bags. At most, they are individual portions like a handful or miniature sizes, which can multiply quickly on Halloween and the days and weeks following.
As you can see, candies such as Smarties and Jolly Ranchers are on top of the list due to their lower caloric value, but another advantage to these is that they last longer. If the kids are old enough for hard candy, Jolly Ranchers are perfect, because they can’t be chewed up and moved on from as fast as most other candies. Likewise, Smarties offers many small pieces in a roll, making kids feel like they’re getting more than their fair share. These types of candies, because less is needed to make a child feel like they’ve actually had some candy, can also help offset the terrible habit of mindless eating.
Let’s face it; kids love candy. The gooier and stickier, the better. For that matter, most adults do too, so we get it. The challenge that we face every year at this time can be used as the perfect opportunity to teach our children to be health conscious, using self-control and moderation. Our job, as parents and caregivers, is to provide the proper direction, so our kids won’t be opening candy after candy, giving themselves tummy aches and sugar crashes.
Between the classroom parties and leftover candy trading at recess, many questionable sweets will likely land in our kids’ sticky hands. Unfortunately, we can’t always control what happens when we’re not around. What we can control, however, is how we educate our children on which sweets to enjoy in moderation and which ones to turn away from. This in turn will help them make wise food decisions in the future – even when you’re not looking.
(2012). Calorie count. Retrieved from http://caloriecount.about.com.